Accessible Web Design

The importance of accessible web design lays in the fact that a lot of these helpful products will not be fully effective unless the websites are designed to be accessible.

Using accessible web design London based companies and others around the UK have found that rewards outweigh the costs. Companies using accessible web design have the knowledge and comfort that they are providing useful alternatives for people with special requirements. They also have the added benefits of increasing their potential customer base, as customers with disabilities will be more receptive to companies that cater to their needs.

We have established the importance of accessible web design across the globe but the most important factor is how daily tasks we take for granted, can be carried out with relative ease giving the user peace of mind and independence. With the Internet being the most used information resource for people from all walks of life it has become necessary to provide people with disabilities the equal opportunities of accessing information and people at the touch of a button.

Fast becoming an integral part of building a website, accessible web design UK, and globally is a must for all website owners who wish to bridge the gap between web design and web functionality.

Website Design Disasters

Outdate Information, Broken Links, and “Under Construction”. There is nothing more frustrating than sifting through out-dated websites when you’re in search of current information. Or clicking on a link that you hope leads to the answer to your question, only to discover that “This Page Cannot Be Displayed” or that the domain name is for sale.

Only slightly less annoying are messages informing you that the page is currently under construction or is “Coming Soon”. If it’s not here yet, don’t waste your visitor’s time leading them down dead ends.

Solution: Schedule at least a day a month scouring your website for outdated information and broken links. You can also include a link on your website that allows visitors to report broken links or outdated information. As far as “Under Construction” messages, instead announce to your visitors any upcoming changes or additions to your website. They’ll be glad to know it without getting their hopes up, clicking a link to much sought after information, and being told it isn’t available yet.

Hard to Find Contact Information. It’s hard to understand why any website would fail to make it easy for visitors to get in touch with the people who run it. Offering this simple bit of information will:
a. Encourage people to ask for permission before using your content &/or graphics on their own sites.
b. Make it easier for people to contact you for promotional reasons. For example, someone may desire to interview you, initiate a contract or simply make an important business contact that you may need in the future.
c. Provide people with ways to reach you and your company while they are offline. You can provide them with ways to reach you by telephone, snail mail or possibly even to stop and tour your facilities.

Solution: Simply add a “Contact Us” page and link to your website. Be sure to include pertinent email addresses, phone numbers, names, mailing addresses and (if necessary) driving directions.

Not Changing the Color of a Visited Link. While this may not seem like such a big deal, it’s one that has been bugging website traffic for many years. You can take that on the authority of Dr. Jakob Nielsen, the man who’s been called the “guru of Web page usability” by the New York Times.

The purpose of changing link colors is to give your site visitors an idea of where they’ve already been and where they have yet to venture. This is especially important if you have a large site with new pages being added to it often.

Solution: The HTML code is simple: Inside the body tag, add the “vlink” tag and the color code or color name. The code for blue visited link text would look like this:

or

Replace the code or color name with the color you want. There, you’re done. It’s that simple.

Web Site Builder Tools

Online website design tools are just programs written by people, they cannot think, they cannot make recommendations or tell you that some element in the design you are creating is not going to be best for you. These programs will do exactly what you tell them to do so unless you are an experienced website design professional you will probably be in trouble and besides if you were a website design professional you would not be using a tool like this.

Is your competition using some online website builder? If you think so then think again. How will you expect to outsell or out rank your competition on the search engines if you are driving a Volkswagen and they are driving a Ferrari? It’s just not going to happen.

What is the difference between online website design builder tools and Content Management Systems or CMS? A lot! The online website design builder tools are for designing the layout of your site, the code behind your site and the elements that will make your site usable by your visitors and viewable and rank able by search engines.

Content Management Systems will allow you to update the content of your website and keep it fresh for your visitors and for the search engines. Unlike online builder tools a good Content Management System fits inside an already designed professional website layout.

The content you place within the pages of your website will affect your sales and your search engine rankings but there is little danger that you will destroy your website by using a good CMS.

Cardinal Rules of Web Design

One of the most important cardinal rules of functional, good web design, is if you have to explain how your navigation works… it’s a good sign you don’t have good navigation. Web site navigation should first above all, function, cause if it does not function it is useless and people will not stay on a web site for more than a few moments if they cant navigate easily. Make your navigation simple and elegant, don’t waste peoples time and patience with a bunch of useless Flash animation or disappearing links.

Have a clear naming or “branding” of each section of your web site. Don’t confuse your visitors. Let them know what section of the site they are in at all times because what is common sense to you, will certainly not be common sense to everyone else. All of us are, after all, individuals and we all think differently about each situation.

Audio, please oh please if you absolutely MUST insist on putting audio on your site, at the very least please provide a way to turn it off. There is nothing more annoying than audio on a page that you can’t stop. I just leave the website rather than sit through the interruption of some cheesy beat or one of those really annoying talking robot heads. When I am listing to satellite radio I don’t want some alien sound destroying my net surfing Zen.

Most people in Western culture read from left to right, which means the natural tendency when someone lands on your homepage is to scan from the top left and continue from there. This is also true with navigation, put your most important sections of your site on the left side of your horizontal nav-bar or on the top of your vertical nav-bars. People don’t want to see “Home” and “About Us” as the first links, no one cares…. at first. Give them the value, give them the bread and butter of your site… first. After they are satisfied with the meal, they will head on over to the “About” page for the desert, or the icing on the cake to seal the deal. Don’t spoil peoples’ appetites by putting something in their way that they didn’t come to your site looking for in the first place.

No one likes an ugly web site, but what people don’t like even more than an ugly web site, is a non-functioning web site. My final cardinal rule of good web design is the philosophy that every web site should look as good as it functions. Top shelf functionality will breed top shelf design, it’s the nature of good web design.